British Home Children

I’ve been reading a novel about orphans and children of unmarried mothers that were sent to Australia by the well meaning authorities in Britain back in the 1930s-1970s.  The premise of this page turning genealogical mystery is based around the question of what would you do if you discovered you had a brother you never knew existed?

Blurb* about the book: On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and temporarily placing him in a children’s home. She returned later but he had vanished.

What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go?

Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets, and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth.

Can she find the vanished child?

This book is the fourth in the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery series, but can be read as a stand alone novel.

The Vanished Child by M J Lee

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These child migrants, or Home Children were part of the child migration scheme founded by Annie MacPherson in 1869, under which more than 100,000 children were sent from the United Kingdom to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. The Home Children programme was largely discontinued in the 1930s, but didn’t entirely stop until the 1970s.

Research, that began in the 1980s, exposed abuse and hardships of the relocated children and this led to Australia apologising in 2009 for its involvement in the scheme. In February 2010 the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a formal apology to the families of children who suffered on behalf of Britain. Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney stated in 2009 that Canada would not apologise to child migrants, preferring to “recognize that sad period” in other ways.

WDYTYA? Magazine – British Home Children

Recently while I was browsing the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine website I have discovered that they have a useful list of websites for investigating those who went to Canada and so if you have family who went to this country then this may help your research:



*When I was a bookshop owner in the 1980s to the early 2010s we always referred to the short descriptive note about the book as the blurb – I just love that word!

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